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My Georgie

My Georgie image
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I have been asked to teil the story; but, if I teil it at all, it must be in rny own way. I'm an old woman now, and if I ramble and maunder at times, why, perhaps you would do the same if you were sixtyyears old, It wasn't necessary to see through a millstone to see that one of the girls loved him with her whole heart, while the other- but there ! I have got into the middle of the story, and haven't told you the beginning yet. There wasn't any great harm in Ida - I believe thftt thoroughly- but the child was too muoh of a kitten to know her own mind. Pretty? Oh, yes, very pretty, even to my old eyes; just the sort of beauty that old age likes, with plenty of light and color about it - great soft dark eyes, and heaps of dark tangled hair, and the bloom of the daniask rose on her soft oval cheeke. She was a good little thing in the main, but fancif ui and flighty and eaprícious as a willo'-the-wisp, and with a whole storehouse of romance treasnred up in her foolish litfcle brain. It was reftlly as good as a play to see that dainty, luxurious little creature sitting there in her silks and laces, talking about self-sacrifice and the pleasure of working and economizing for the man one loved. Work and economy, forsooth ! and she knew about as mucn of either as a mollusk does of algebra. Not that I know what a mollusk is - heaven forbid!- but it seems to be the fashion now to talk the most of what you understand the least. Yes, Ida was a nice little thing, bright and foodnatnred, and generous in an impulsive, open-haiided way; but, bless you! she ïad about as much power of loving in ïer as a kitten. She could like people nd be fond of them, aud all that eort of thing, as long as everything was smooth and pleasant; but at the first touch of advërsity - puff ! her little rush-light of ove was out with a whift .instead of jurning up clearer and stronger and ercer for the blast, as it ought to do if t were the right sort. What is the use of being hard upon lie child, though, for what she could no nore help than she could the mole upon ïer cheek, which troubled her so ? Love s a gift and a talent, like any other. ■ome people have it and some haven't, nd whether it is a gift to be prayed for r not is a question my poor old brain annot pretend to settle. I believe in it et, old as I am, and I believe in insani;y, but it's precious little I've seen of ither the one or the other. They say ve are uil crazy, more or less, only in most people it never comes out very trong, and perhaps it's the same with ove. I suppose most of us have more r less of the commodity lying loose bout us ready to be squandered on nybody that comes along. People in jeneral are satisfled to dribble it out, ïere a little and there a little, until it is II gone, and nobody the better for it - r the worse. Once in a whüe, though, 'ou come across somebody who has ïoarded up the whole stock, 'and kept it ntact until the one comes along who laims it all. Is that the better way? 'm sure I can't teil. It all dependa p6n who comes in for it at the end. Georgië was one of that kind, I think; little mite of a creature, with none of da's brightness or bloom about her, ut taking, in her way, too, with the ook of quiet resolution about the square hin and firm little mouth, and the vistful, yearning spirit that seemed alvays peeping out of the blue-gray eyes. of t brown hair, and a fair, quiet little ace that could wake up and sparkle with life whon anything stirred or imused her - that was Georgië. And oth of the girls thought they loved dm, though what there was about him aat wasso wonderfully attractive I never ïould see. A good-looking young felow enough, tall and manly, with a rown mustache, and a clear frank look ui his brown eyes. You see hundreds as good as he is every day, and what ïere was about him Well, well, girls are mysteries, and very different from what they were when I was young. 'hen we didn't consider it proper to alk, or even think, about such things. We took the good the gods gave us in liat line, and wore thankful; or, if we idn't choose to take it, we went without, nd never vexed our heads about any ' might have beens." That's what I did, ind I'm none the worse for it now. Perlaps, though, if Georgie's father Jut that is all over and done with long go. Sometimes I think, though, that bat may be the reason I love tne girl so veil - better, yes, certainly better, than da, though sho is rny own niecse. But here I am maundering on about my own views and my own thoughts and my own feelings, and haven't told you who they all are yet. Ida, you see, is my niece - Ida Morton, my brother's only child. Georgië is Georgië Gresham, a diatant connectiou of Ida's, who lives in the house, but supports herself by giving music lessons. Such a patiënt, plueky, indomitable little mite as she is, trudging out in all weathers, and coming back pale and tired, but with never a complaint from her firm little lips, and always with a bright smile and a cheerful word for " Aunt Jeanie," as she, too, calis me. I believe the child really does love me; and does Ida, only hers is a different sort of ioe. You feel that if you were away, Ida would love a stick, or a stone, or anything that might happen to be in y our place; but Georgië would never forgot you - never. The young man is Mark Drayton, and he ie only a clerk in my brother's store; but, for all that, he is of good birth and breeding. The wheel of fortune has trange ups and clowns, aud he was glad enough of the placo when Mr. Merton sought hitn out and. offered it to liim. in meinory of early benefit which he bad reeeived from young Drayton's father. Neither of them had ever had any reason to repent the step, for Mark had proved to be steady and honorable, with rare flashes of what was almost like a genius for business, if there can be such a thing. He had ïiseli steadily, until it was quite understood that next year he was to be a partner in the large wholesale and retail dry goods house of Merton & Co. All things considered, he would not have been such a bad match for Ida, only that I knew that the child did not really care abotit him, and there was Georgië breaking her prsud, patiënt little heart for his sake, and nobody saw it but one old woman, who had been through it all herself and knew what it meant. It was hard enough for her sometimes, but she was not the kind to fret or bemoan berselfi Of coutfse the young rnan was caught by Ida's witcheries, for the little puss was as fond of admiration as a cat is of sparrows, and spared no pains to fascínate him. I wonder that the twö girls continued as good ftfebdft as they did ; but I think GeorgiG Baw that Ida was not to blomc, and was only acting out her nature, in perfect ignorance of the deadly hurt which she was inflicting upon her friend. For though Georgië had told her of her long, long friendship with Mark Drayton when he was only a poor struggling clerk, she had nevor told öf the looks and words and ways with which he had won away her heart before either of them knew it. Not that the young man was dishonorable either. She had been his only friend in those days, you seey That Wils while her widowed müfcher was still living and Georgië was liviug with her. It was not until after her mother had died that the girl carne to Uve in Mr. Merton's house. Sympathy and friendship are very sweet, and Georgië had been patiënt, tender and true, and the young man had learned to think of her as a sister, and perhaps to love her as something more, but it all seemed so hopeless that he never spoke. And then he met Ida, and was dazzled and bewitched by her, and so Georgië was eclipsed for awhile - only for awhile, I feit sure, if he and Ida could but be kopt from committing themselves until both had had time to wake up from their foolish dream. That erening, though, I began to fear that the rash young things would take matters into their own hands. Mark always did run aboutthe house like a tame cat ; there were few evenings that did not find them in our drawing room. No doubt it was very good for the young man, and kept him out of a great deal of mischief , but I could not help thinking sometimes that he was not the only one to be considered. That even Ida exerted all her witchery. Sucia a bright sparkling little puss she was when she chose ! It was not what she said ; that was well enough in its way, but neither remarkably wise or witty, but so enforced and pointed by droopings of the long lasbes, and, poutings of the red lips, and flashing of the dark eyes, and flutterings of the little white hands, that even an old woman like me couldn't help f orgetting for awhile what nonsense the whole thing was, and be carried away and captivated and fascinated in spite of herseif. And all the while my little Georgië sat there, with her pale face and her gentle, quite ways and her quaint little words, just the same as ever, for anything they could see. And I fancied now and then that there was a quick ! catching of her breath or a passing . traction of her pretty forehead - why, perhaps it was only my fancy. I tried '. to think só, at all events. Presently they began to talk of the opera, and Ida declared with her pretty ( hands clasped, that she adored Nilsson. Didn't Mr. Drayton think she was just divine ? And on 1 what would she give : to see her in "Faust"? She never had ' seen her in that, and was sure she must ( be a perfect Marguerite. Did Mr. Dsiyton know that that was the opera , for to-morrow night, and perhaps that ( would be the last time it would be ; given ? ■ And Ida stopped, with her hands still j clasped and her eyes fixed on the young , man. I declare I could have boxed her pretty pink ears. Georgië eould not have done it ; but then things that would - have seemed forward and unmaidenly in other girls, in Ida seemed so simple and artless and unconscious that you could ; aot be disgusted with her. ] Of course there was nothing for Mr. , Drayton to do but to say that he would ] be delighted to escort her. I caught one swift glanco from Georgie's eyes, j ind then I remembered that he was to j liave taken her on that very evening to , hear a celebrated pianist, who was ] ing the whole city wild ; but Georgië iïid not speak. She was only a friend j iind a sister, and must leam to be j ] ly put asid e when others claimed his ■ services. Perhaps the young man's j oonscience smote him a little, for he was unusually gentle and attentive in his ways to" Georgië that evening, and I heard Mm say, "You know, Georgië, that he will be here for some time, and any night will do for him, but Nilsson may not appear as Marguerite again." "Oh, yes, it is all right. I quite understand," said Georgië ; and if his ear was not quick enough to detect the little quiver in her voice, nor his eye sharp enough to see the flutter of her lip, though my old eyes and ears could perceive both, whose fault was that ? Love is blind, they say ; but a calm, friendly indifference is blinder than any mole. I scarcely saw Georgië the next day, but Ida was in and out, bright ind blithe as usual. When the evening came both the girls were in the drawing room. Ida was radiant. Her dress was of black silk, but all tricked off with soft, flno laces, with flecks of scarlet here and there. Scarlet fuchsias nodded in her hair and dropped at her dainty throat. Georgië looked like a pale shadow beside her, in her soft gray gown, unrelieved by a single dash of color, but, to my eyes, so sweet and fair in her grave, quiot composure. Well, the evening crept slowly on, and Ida grew impatient, flashing hither and thither in her quick, rcstless way, while Georgië, half bidden in the shadow of the curtams, knitted on steadily at some piece of soft fleece work, apparently unmoved. The carriage had been waiting at the door for an hour, and still no sign of Mark. Just as Ida was for the fortieth time appealing to us to know if it were not the strangest thing we ever heard of.and where in the world could he be, the door opened and Mr. Merton entered. A tall, fine-looking man was this brother of mine, with silver hair and clear blue eyes, and the port and bearing of a gentleman of the old school, with the polished courtesy of that by-gone class, too, and the dignified calm which scarce tliing could ruflle. 80 it startled us to see a shadow on his face, which deepeu ed af ter the quick glance whieh he cas arouud the room. " What is the matter, brotlier Paul?' I asked ; and both girls looked up. "Iamvexed and puzzled," was hi reply - a most unusual thing for him " I eame in hoping against hope to fine Mark Drayton here. You have seen nothiDgof him?" Mark Drayton ! Ida listened in earn est now, and even Georgië dropped her work. "It is a most perplexing tliing," he went on. ' ' I would stake my life on the young fellow'B truth and honor ; ye what can havo become of him ?" Become of him í A perfect hurricane of questions aróse j ohly Georgië was silent as deaüi ia her obscure corner. As sooii as Idfi could be induced to listen and let the rest hear, brotlier Paul told his story. How that in the morning a lady had entered the store, a lady regal in silks and laces, more regal ín port and beariügj Bo brother Paul said, tall and fair, with great flashing hazel eyes, and hair of palest gold. How that this lady, after inspecting and lavishly ordering the richest and cosüiest goods, velvets, silks of every shade, laces - old point, Homton, guipure, Mechline - -"enough to dress you from head to foot, Ida " - had suddenly discevered that she had forgotten heï purse and check-book. In sore perplexity she sent her card to Mr. Merton - Mrs. Launce D'Arleton was the name he bore - with a request for an interview. Explaining that she was obliged to leave town that afternoon, she begged him to send a trusty clerk in the carriage with her to receive and bring back the money. "So,"said brother Paul, in conclusión, "I asked Mark to go as a personal favor. It is hardly his business, but I thought I could trust him." "Well, papa?" said Ida, as he paused. "Well, that is all," said brother Paul. "Ali,papa? But where is Mark ?" " Ah ! that is the question. Bince he entered the carriage with Mrs. D'Arleton, notning has been seen of him. The sum was a large one, and whether he nas yielded to the sudden temptation - but that is impossible. Tet foul play, the only alternative, seems equally impossible. I have set the pólice on the track, but I sm utterly baffled and bewildered." I cannot pretend to describe the scène that followed this announcement. I know that for a moment there was dead silence in the room. We wore all, I think, too nmch shoeked and stunned to speak. Ida still stood in the middle of the floor, with a face from which every vestige of color had fled. Then Georgië come forward, and, as if her movement had snapped the spell, the silence broke up suddenly - questions, surniises, doubt, suspicions, set aside as soon as formed, for none of us could really suspect of any evil-doing the young man vrhom we had known so long and so well. But all came back to the one horrible, unanswerable question, where could he be? I can only teil the story from my own point of view, and there is no use in my trying to enter into the details of the pólice search, of the rewards offered, of the clews which they thought they had found, but which invariably led to nothing. Had the earth opened and swallowed Mark and that mysterious woman, they could not have disappeared more utterly. The detective system was a mystery past our comprehension, and we could do nothing but sit at home and (vait, deludod with fresh hopes or sicksned by fresh fears as day after day jrept slowly on. You understand that, apart from the horror of the mystery eo suddenly thrust into our midst, my heart was wrung for Georgië, bearing her burden of angnish 30 patiently. Day by day her little face grew paler and thinner, and the wistful, yearning look deepened in her syeö, and her lips were more flrmly set in their resolute Une. But I knew that tier dread was only of his death ; I knew ;hat no shadow of a doubt of his truth ind honor had ever crossed her mind. And how was it with Ida ? The child, ü first, was the most wretched of any of is, and yielded to her feelings without restraint. But when the first horrible íhock was over - how shall I express it ? [ think the long misery of suspense aored her. She could never endure znnui, and, sad and shocking as it may 3e, there is a certain dreadful ennui in ill protracted grief. She grew tired of .t ; tired of waiting and hoping and f ear:ng ; tired of our sad faces ; tired, most 3f all, of the long strain of grief on her ight, careless nature. So at last it was :eally a relief to her to open her ears to ;he rumors and suspicions which circulated among those who did not know Mark as we did. It justified her in casting aside the show of sadness, which had ilready ceased to be anything but a show, and when a doubt was once ontertained, it was easy for it to bocome a íettled, angry conviction. Well, time passed on, as it always does, whether its foot falls on roses or on breaking hearts. We were all colLected in the drawing-room. How well I remember the scène ! The room was lighted only by the wood fire, which sent its fine flickers wavering over floor and ceiling. Georgië sat on a low ottoman. How thin her face looked as the bright lights and deep shadows chased each other across it ! She was dressed in black, put on, perhaps, poor child ! as 11 silent emblem of the sorrow that had almost died into hopelessness. Ida was at the other side of the room, talking to young Somerby, who had dropped in, just as she used to talk to Mark, with the same pretty gestures, the same arch inflections, the samo soft, ringing laughter. How could she? But it was the child's nature. I elared not forget that, or I should have hated her for her fickleness and heartlessness. Suddenly the door into the hall opened. And who stood thero, a black figure sharply defined against the glaro of light ? For an instant we all sat niute and motionless, uncertain, I think, whether it was a ghost or not. For wo had become so sure, Georgië and I, that he was dead, you see, though noither of us had breathed the suspicion to the othor, nor would wo have acknowledged it had we been taxed with it. For an instant we sat so, and then with a low cry of "Mark ! oh, Mark ! is it you at last?" Georgië sprang forward, her face all lighted up with eager joy and triumph. But he? He scarcely noticed her - my poor little Georgië ! -just took her hand mechanically as he peered into the shadows. "Ida!" I exclaimed, sharply, for the child had never stirred, though she saw him well enough. Then Bhe came forward, slowly and reluctantly. I tlwak she waa frightened, for she hated tragedy with every fiber of her nature, and sbo had been living in tho midst of it for two weeks, and now its cnlmination in bodily shapes tood before her. 8he did not know what to do. The kitten had nothing in her natuie to enable her to rise to the level of such a crisis as this. She could neither cast away her suspicions nor avow fhem boldly to bis face. She just stood before him, with eyes half downcast, half averted, bnt with fear and siispicion and distrust written so legibly on every feature tliat the young man must have been blind indeed not to read that silent language. Not a word of welcome, not a question as to where he had been, nothiug but that cOnfusedj blushing silence which the most easüy deluded lover could never have mistaken for the timidity of loYe and joy. 1 think Mark was bewildered at first, but as he stood and gazed at her, gradually. the meaning of it all grew plain to him, and his expression changed. I saw the pride and calm contempt slowly rise and overflow his face, as it were, as a wave may spread slowly over a flat when the tide comes in. Thero was no anger in his look, no resentment. He seemed only like one who wakens slowly from a pleasant dream. And then - then he turned to my Georgio at last, and over his face thero caine a glow and a light such as I had never seen there before, as he said, rfmply : " But Georgië believed in me." And she went to him and wept her heart away in his encircling arm, and I drew Ida softly away and left them. Young Somerby had had sense enough to take himself off before. So Georgië had won not much of a prize, after all, I to my thinking ; but if she was satisfled, that was all that was necessary. Of course I was dying to hear Mark's story, but I had not the heart to intrude upon them then. When he did teil it at last, it seemed more like a crazy dream than a sober, matter-of-fact episode of &e nineteenth century. When he got into the carriage with Mrs. D'Arleton, she, it seems, began to talk in so briliant and fascinating a, manner that he did not notice the direction in which hey were driving until they stopped be'ore a large building, which he recognized as the lunatic asylum. Bequestmg him ;o wait a few minutes, as she had business inside, she left him. Shortly after he was greeted politely by the doetor in charge, who came to the parriage, and, addressiug him as Mr. D'Arleton, requested him to step out for á minute. Hark disclaimed the name, bilt for this Dr. Langley was prepared, as Mrs. D'Arleton had told him that her husband was the victim of a strange hallucination, )elieving himself a clerk in the house of I Horton & Co., and giviag his name as Mark Drayton. Recognizing the trap set for him, Mark by his own account, ost his head for the moment, knocked down one or two of the men who advanced to seize him, and conducted ïimself generally so like a lunatic that liere was no room for doubt of Mrs. 3'Arleton's story in any mind. Of course he was overpowered at last and laken into the building, catching a 'limpse as he passed of Mrs. D'Arleton n an attitude of bitter and most becomng grief. She had taken the precauion to pay his board a month in advance, thus securing his detention long enough to allow her to escape with her jooty. As time went on and he became calmer, his entreaties to be confronted vith Mr. Merton, which at first had been reated as mere ravings, began to make more impression. At last Dr. Langley, meeting Mr. Merton accidentally, menioned the circumstance, and the result, of course, was Mark's release. So there is my story, and if it is not artistically handled, why, I am an oid woman, as I told you, and not used to uch things. To me the chief interest centered in Georgië, and if I have made ïer the principal figure, and rather lurred over Mark's adventures, it is )artly for that reason and partly because, beyond the bare outline, we could not get much out of him. He had suf-'ered too much, I suppose, during his ncarceration to let his mind dweil upon t willingly. Mrs. D'Arleton was never xaced; but whenever we take np a paper nd read of a successful swindling opera;iaa, we look at each other and wonder, 'What is she?" Georgië and Mark are very happy, if we may judge by appearances, and I ;hink we may. Ida has outgrown her uspictons, and Mark has forgiven her br them, but the old glamour has gono orever, which is very fortúnate for all oncerned. And if Ida and young Somerby should come to terms, why, I think t will be a very good thing, for there , are no heights in the nature of either after which th other must strain in vain. So my task is done, and now I can lay [own my pen and take my rest by the ïearth where we have sat, Georgië and , so many times, and where we have )oth Ireamed our dreams - I of a darkened past, she of a darkened future. Ve dream them no more; and if her iïture is bright, I see beyond and above a future for me which is bright with a íritrhtness that earth can never srive. -


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Michigan Argus